Michael Conlan’s replacement opponent for his homecoming fight in August has been announced.
Instead of facing former amateur rival Vladimir Nikitin, who suffered a bicep injury, Conlan will take on Diego Alberto Ruiz on August 3. The fight will headline a boxing card taking place at the Féile an Phobail summer festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The original fight between Conlan and Nikitin would have been a rematch of their controversial fight in the 2016 Olympics that saw Nikitin win by decision. The bout will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States.
Conlan has quickly shaken off the loss to Nikitin and has already emerged as a rising contender at featherweight. After just 11 fights in the pro ranks, Conlan is already placed in the top seven in both the WBA and WBO rankings. The 27-year-old Conlan won the WBO Intercontinental title last December in Manchester, England, when he won a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision against Jason Cunningham. Conlan last fought on St. Patrick's Day this past March when he defeated Ruben Garcia Hernandez by unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden.
After winning 11 of his first 13 fights, Ruiz has gone on to win his last 10 fights, capturing a number of regional and national titles throughout his career. This will be Ruiz's second fight of 2019 with his most recent bout being a split decision win against Luis Emanuel Cusolito on June 1 to win the WBC Latino Silver featherweight title.
Also on the ESPN+ card is a 10-round middleweight bout between Luke Keeler and Luis Arias. Keeler, the WBO European champion, is unbeaten in his last seven fights and is ranked No. 6 by the WBO. Arias has not won a fight since June 2017 with his last two contests being a split draw against Gabriel Rosado in November 2018 and a loss to Daniel Jacobs in November 2017.